Background: Acute exacerbation and bacterial pneumonia are major life-threatening conditions in patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD). The rapid recognition of these 2 different conditions is important for their proper treatment. An elevated procalcitonin (PCT) level is commonly detected in patients with bacterial infections. This study assessed the usefulness of the serum PCT level as a biomarker for the differential diagnosis of acute exacerbation and bacterial pneumonia in patients with ILD. Materials and Methods: In this prospective observational study, we enrolled patients with ILD who had experienced recently progressive dyspnea and exhibited new infiltrations on chest radiographs. We classified these patients into an acute exacerbation group and a bacterial pneumonia group and compared their baseline characteristics and laboratory parameters, including the PCT level. Results: Of 21 patients with ILD, 9 patients had bacterial pneumonia. Both the groups showed similar baseline characteristics. The bacterial pneumonia group demonstrated a high PCT level. The PCT level in the acute exacerbation group was significantly lower than that in the bacterial pneumonia group (0.05 versus 0.91 ng/mL, respectively; P <0.001). Other parameters, such as the C-reactive protein level, leukocyte count and body temperature, were also lower in the acute exacerbation group. At a cutoff value of 0.1 ng/mL, the sensitivity, specificity and negative predictive values of the serum PCT level were 88.9%, 100.0% and 92.3%, respectively. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the serum PCT level is useful in the differential diagnosis of acute exacerbation and bacterial pneumonia in patients with ILD.
- Lung diseases
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